A striking anthology of interviews that sheds light on one of the most iconic poetry institutions in New York City.
When it first opened in 1966, the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church was a place for poets to gather, listen to the vibrant new voices making noise in the city, and, more importantly, collaborate with their peers. It opened “out of the need for a stable ongoing reading series/gathering point/community center for the overlapping circles of poets in downtown NYC.” In celebration of the Poetry Project’s 50th anniversary, Berrigan (Come in Alone, 2016, etc.) has assembled a series of interviews that were originally published in the Poetry Project newsletter. The newsletter had as a mission to instigate cross-generational conversations, featuring writers from various decades discussing contemporary issues in the writing/poetry community. The work “will reward readers who take on the experience of reading it from beginning to end”—and the reward is no small thing. Readers have the pleasure of encountering Charles North discussing “scenes,” Kenneth Koch characterizing anthologies, Alice Notley talking about the construction of narratives, Ed Sanders discussing Allen Ginsberg and the New York School, Bernadette Mayer shedding light on her vocation as a writer, Fred Moten exploring the masculinity/femininity of discourse, and Anne Waldman ranting about the joys of collaboration. This anthology provides strong historical context for a space that championed linguistic risks, welcomed diversity with open arms, and celebrated a sociopolitical agenda. Berrigan explains that the Poetry Project “wasn’t just a place to go give a reading and cross off some list of desired venues. The point was to be exposed, to expose your rawest risk-taking work to a discerning audience, one that would let you know right there whether it’s working or not, and to participate in that as communal process.”
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").